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Voters pass Medicaid expansion in 3 Republican states, Kansas may follow

Voters in the three Republican-controlled states passed Medicaid expansion ballot measures Nov. 6, potentially increasing coverage to an estimated 300,000 people and bringing the total number of expansion states to 36.

Ballot initiatives in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah approved by voters will increase Medicaid coverage up to 138% of the federal poverty level for individuals in those states. Montana voters, meanwhile, appear poised to vote down an initiative to extend Medicaid expansion, which could see Medicaid expansion sunset in the state in 2019.

Kate Wolfe, communication director for Insure the Goodlife, the grassroots organization that has led the Medicaid expansion effort in Nebraska, said that people have been fighting for Medicaid expansion for six years in the state. When the measure officially passed, "there was excitement ... and I would say, probably some relief."

Considering that all three of the initiatives that passed are in states with Republican-controlled state legislatures, proponents of expansion expect a challenge to ultimately achieving implementation of expansion. Maine was the first state to pass expansion via ballot initiative in 2017, and the program has yet to take effect.